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Jude The Obscure Essay

1048 words - 4 pages

Jude the Obscure

There are many prominent themes that run throughout the film Jude - the themes of love and marriage and what's socially accepted are two of the most prevalent. As these themes, among others, are portrayed throughout the film, it is blatantly clear that the society in which Jude, and his cousin / "wife" Sue, are confined within, has their own set beliefs regarding what is right and what is wrong. These "social bindings" are inflicted upon Jude and Sue both individually and as "husband and wife" throughout the film.
One of the very first scenes in the film shows Jude and Phillotson, his schoolmaster, walking together. Apparently, Phillotson is leaving the small town of Marygreen and is headed for Christminster to attend the university for young men. Jude is told when he is barely twelve years old that "if he wants to do anything in life, he must go to Christminster - even if it means giving up everything else for awhile." Once he is at Christminster, everything will be open to him; "he can become anything he wants, choose his future." Jude now sees Christminster as an "enlightened place of learning". He associates it with his many dreams of higher education and his vague notions of academic success. Immediately, we see the confines of society. From such a young age, Jude is told that in order for his life to have some kind of purpose and meaning, he must attend the University at Christminster. From that moment on, his entire life is centered around his studies and his aspiration to leave Marygreen and go to Christminster. To society, this university is equated with excellence and social prominence - Jude is also led to believe that his admission to the university will bring him complete and utter personal fulfillment.
Another example of the constraints of society at the time, is Sue's marriage to Phillotson. Sue recognizes her own intelligence and potential for a satisfying career in teaching, and marries Phillotson partly out of a desire for a pleasant work environment. She attempts to resist a romantic relationship with Jude, but falls in love with him nonetheless. Yet by marrying Phillotson, Sue hopes not only to protect her reputation, but to achieve the traditional and accepted lifestyle of a married woman. She does like Phillotson, despite his age, yet is unable to become attracted to him. Phillotson tries very hard to preserve at least the external appearance of a typical marriage. As a man, he is legally permitted to force Sue to stay in his bed and even sleep with him. For this reason, he is viewed with contempt by society when he eventually permits her to leave him. However, his understanding brings him only more difficulty, as he is personally blamed for Sue's disobedience of what is considered the societal norm.
Jude and Sue are both able to obtain divorces from their previous marriages - Sue to Phillotson and Jude to...

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